Five Apps to Help Sort Out Your Life

While only you can sort your life out, it is true that little things like your app can make the whole process so much easier for you and enable you to bring about some organization in your life. There is an app for everything now a days – from making you a schedule to prompting you to get on or off one, the push to change your life for good is in your hands.

Wondering what all apps can there be that hold the much wished for support? Here’s a list for you:

1. Shoeboxed

This app is for everyone who wonders where all the money went every month’s end. It lets you keep track of your spending by taking image of the purchase receipts. Shoeboxed gives the opportunity to see where you are spending the most every month, thus helping you curb those expenses.

From the simple personal usage, you can use Shoeboxed to manage your business cards, track mileage, make expense reports, and prepare taxes. The fact that the app makes it so easy to track receipts has made it a prime choice for companies all across the globe.

2. Evernote

This is your one stop solution for all haphazard notes issue. Evernote lets you keep all your to-do lists and ideas to class or office notes in one place and then allows you to view and edit them across a series of devices.

Evernote is not merely a note-taker, it can be the to-do list manager, note-taker, read-later app, reminder, cloud storage service, and you can even use it to scan business card, edit and capture photos, or any document you want.

3. Vent

If there is one thing that scan keep you from bringing you’re a game forward, it’s the pent up feelings. How many times have you found yourself disoriented and confused because you didn’t had anyone to talk to? Vent app helps you talk about your feelings with someone who is willing to hear you out.

The app reads “Voice your opinion to our supportive community without the worry of being insulted or disrespected, de-friended or upsetting people you know” and stands by it through the anonymous feature it offers.

4. LastPass

The one thing that takes most of our time, every day, is trying to remember passwords for the plethora of platforms we are always active on. It either takes a pen and paper or a herculean memory size to store all passwords in. With both being unreliable, LastPass gives you a secure space to store all your email ids and passwords in one place. It saves your passwords even in different browsers.

LastPass is much more than a password storage app, it lets you maintain digital record and online shopping profiles, on the go.

5. Namerick

One of the easiest way to make people like you is by remembering their names. While it sounds easy in saying, it can be much difficult to apply in practice. We meet so many people every single day and with such new faces coming in and out of your life, it can become extremely difficult to keep track of their names, especially when you need their service. Namerick helps you here by associating names to sounds or places or things thus making it easier for you to remember them on time. And the best part is, it lets you store information of when and where you met them and even why you would need them in future!

While the ultimate power to change your life remains in your hand, these five apps can make the transition a little easy for you. You will find a number of other productivity apps in the market that promises just the same. Which one do you use?

Top 5 Places To Read Reviews Before You Download An App

Mobile technology has placed the power to shape our lives in the palm of our hands. Today, people are heavily reliant on their mobile phones/ tablets for rudimentary, as well as more complex day-to-day functions.

App stores are swarming with mobile apps of all shapes and sizes that promise a great deal of value to users. According to an estimate, 50,061 apps were added to app stores this month alone, taking the total number of active apps to an astonishing 3,047,527.

However, this growing number of apps is by no means an indicator of service quality as many of these seemingly revolutionary apps prove completely useless once you download them. 88% of online shoppers are known to rely on online reviews to help them in their pre-purchase analysis. While there are plenty of app review websites, many are thought to be influenced by app manufacturers.

So, where can you access factual and unbiased app reviews when deciding on an app? Here we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 most reliable app review websites based on a strong Alexa rank, number of Facebook and Twitter followers as well as domain authority to help you identify the best app for your need:

1. CNET

CNET hosts the world’s largest repository of tech reviews containing unbiased editorial analysis and ratings for upcoming apps. These reviews owe their popularity to their timing as well as authenticity as CNET publishes detailed editorial reviews as soon as an app hits the market. These introductory reviews are then followed by timely updates like this one from AirG industry that changes throughout the app’s lifecycle including potential recalls or the launch of a competing app.

CNET also offers news and recommendations pertaining to high performing apps, thus readers can easily judge which app will give the most value for time and money. The recommendations made on the website are the result of a strict editorial process based on years of research and experience.

This entails detailed analysis and testing by CNET’s editors and lab staff as well as feedback from users and manufacturers. Their testing methodology is based on accepted industry benchmarks and provides qualitative results as well as comparative data that feed their technical reviews. Coupled with input from expert editors, these reviews give you pretty much everything you need to know to make an informed decision.

2. Business Insider

Business Insider is a German-owned news website that has one of the strongest tech journalist team in the world. It is among the most reliable and popular platforms for reading app reviews. The dependability of app reviews on BI can be gauged by the fact that their tech videos receive a whopping 500 million views per month.

Since BI is a news website, their reviews are usually placed under click-bait and hyperbolic headlines which make them all the more compelling to read. These reviews are published after in-house testing and analysis, incorporating all essential aspects including design, usability, performance, speed and functionality.

3. The Telegraph

The Telegraph is England’s national daily newspaper that has gained worldwide acclaim for providing reliable app reviews on its website. You can find in depth analysis, recommendations as well user-generated comments on the website pertaining to a plethora of applications.

The Telegraph updates content on a daily basis, whereas their app reviews are accessible in their archives. The content of these reviews is highly dependable, much in line with the reputation of their brand and therefore you can easily rely on them while making purchase decisions.

4. Mashable

Mashable is a world renowned multi-platform media and entertainment company that is a go-to destination for tech-related content. The app reviews published at Mashable distinguish themselves by being extremely detailed and fact-based.

They provide you specific information to help you contemplate how using a certain app will be like. These reviews provide you meticulous understanding regarding all aspects of an app, both on its own, as well as in comparison with other apps in the market. Moreover, the website offers lists of most popular apps to help you identify the best app for your needs.

5. Techcrunch

Techcrunch provides the latest technology news and information about tech startups. It hosts engaging app review videos that walk you through all crucial elements of an app’s performance.

These videos are much more effective than written reviews, as they provide analysis by technology experts alongside personal experiences from users in order to help you understand the workings of an application in detail. They also enable you to take optimum advantage of apps by walking you through their features and highlighting their applicability

A brief glance at these websites will not only enlighten you with an app’s performance, but also provide you with helpful tips, enabling you to pick the very best of the lot.

Foster Care Youth: Using Technology to Provide Support

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Many social workers, other helping professionals, and foster care alumni have recognized the value in utilizing technology to support foster care youth. However, there is a gap in the scholarly research and development of technology solutions in this area.

In October of 2015, the Pritzer Foster Care Initiative sponsored a conference regarding “Web and Mobile app Solutions for Transition Age Youth.” at the conference, it was suggested that technology innovations for the foster care population should be amassed and made available via a single access point. At a similar event, the “Children’s Rights Summit” in December of 2015, they also discussed the myriad ways technology could be used to overcome legal barriers for foster care youth, families, and professionals.

The push for mobile applications, websites, and video games to engage and empower foster care youth is driven by the poor outcomes associated with “aging out”. Scholars define aging out, which occurs between 18 to 21 years old, as the process by which foster youth surpass the maximum age for foster care. Youth who leave foster care are presumed to join the ranks of: the homeless, undereducated, unemployed, incarcerated, substance abusers, those with unwanted pregnancies, and victims of poor credit and identity theft. 

According to the Adoption and Foster Care Analyse and Reporting, the number of youth who aged out of foster care during 2013 was 238,280. The racial/ethnic breakdown of these youth was: white 45% or 106,487; black 24% or 56,053; Hispanic 20% or 48,661; and Bi-racial or multiracial 6% or 13,889.

National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD) captures data in the following areas for foster care youth aged 17: financial, education, relationships with adults, homelessness, high-risk behaviors, and health insurance access. The data revealed that 28% of those youth were either: employed full or part-time, received job training, social security, educational assistance, or other social supports.

Additionally, 93% of the youth reported participation in educational programming, 93% denoted having a healthy relationship with at least one adult, 16 % reported being homeless at some point, 27% replied having a referral for substance abuse counseling, 35% indicated being incarcerated at some time, 7% reported an unplanned pregnancy or fatherhood, and 81% reported having Medicare coverage.

These figures do not evoke a brilliant future for those departing foster care. For this reason, social workers have become innovators by melding technology and research into mobile applications, websites, and video games that meet the needs of foster care youth. Some of the promising technology available are as follows:

  • Bay Area Legal Aid partners with the Youth Law Center and the Public Interest Law Project to provide trainings in foster care benefits and advocates for foster care youth.
  • Beyond ‘Aging Out’: An MMOG for Foster Care Youth is a gaming platform and support network for foster care youth.
  • Foster Care to Success (FC2S) has influenced public policy, volunteer initiatives, and programs for older foster youth.
  • Foster Club is an online resource providing peer support and information for current and former foster youth.
  • Focus on Foster Families is a mobile app providing video interviews with foster youth and caregivers sharing experiences, and expert legal, education, and child welfare advice.
  • iFoster is an online community offering resources, technology, tutoring, eyeglasses, job opportunities, and a digital locker for foster youth to secure personal information.
  • Kids Help Phone is a Canadian-based website providing 24/7 counselling and information services for children and youth.
  • KnowB4UGo is a mobile application connecting foster youth with people, places and programs that support the aging out process.
  • National Foster Care & Adoption Directory Mobile App (NFCAD) provides search information, including location and key contacts, for organizations, groups, agencies, and experts across the child welfare profession
  • Ratemyfosterhome.com is a mobile app designed to garner information about foster homes and foster care experiences in real-time.
  • TeenParent.net is a website offering information, resources, and a blog to support foster youth who are expecting or parenting and their caregivers.
  • Think of Us is an online platform to support foster youth, foster/adoptive parents, and social services.
  • Pathos game is a puzzle and fantasy video game created by FixedUpdate. As the main character, Pan, explores new worlds and makes new friends, players experience some of the emotions of children in the foster care system. FixedUpdate hopes that Pan’s adventures will connect with people inside and outside of the foster care system. The game, Pathos, will be available on the iTunes Store and Google Play Store in 2016.
  • Persistence Plus engages and motivates college students through a mobile platform that uses transformative behavioral interventions.
  • Sortli is a mobile application that provides information, step-by-step guides and support. Sortli gives you 7 paths toward independence to include identity, relationships, a place to live, health, finances, education and employment, and living skills.
  • Ventura County Foster Healthlink (FHL) is a new website and mobile application that provides foster parents and caregivers with health information about children in their care. The goal is for information to be shared electronically among the care team to better meet the needs of the children.

These are only a fraction of the technologies available to assist foster youth. Many people in the public and private sector are unaware that social work professionals are leading the way in the research and design of high tech for foster youth.

Social worker Ruby Guillen of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) has developed the following apps: (1) an app to report and prevent child sex trafficking, (2) an anti-bullying app, (3) a foster care placement app, and (4) an app for risk assessment of neglect and child abuse. Guillen was inspired by her passion for technology and her experience as a social worker. Guillen and her colleagues developed these apps at two hackathons sponsored by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. Although, the apps are not readily available, they foreshadow trends for the future social work practice.

Jay Miller, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Social Work at the University of Kentucky, understands the gaps in support that exist in the child welfare system. Dr. Miller has asked for backing to create and assess a mobile app to support foster care youth in transition. This research is being conducted in the Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky area.

He states that, “a foster kid will turn 18 and there’s some kind of expectation that they’ll be able to function in a way that other kids who are never in foster care don’t have the capacity to function or make big decisions at 18. We expect foster kids to do that.” He further adds that, “With child welfare in general and with foster care specifically, the problems that plague these systems they are community problems. It’s not just a someone problem. It’s an everyone problem” Miller suggests an ideological change in people’s perceptions about foster care. “We need to look at it as a service for people in need. It is a solution. Dr. Miller’s work will continue to bring the barriers to success for foster youth to the forefront. 

Innovative technology solutions have been developed to address systemic issues in the foster care system and to sustain foster care youth in general. These mobile apps, websites, and video games meet immediate needs allowing foster care youth to focus on future goals. There are a plethora of resources accessible to equip foster care youth in their transition into young adulthood.

By shifting the focus from data that exposes the many apertures of the current system to programs that produce confident and successful young adults, our outlook becomes much broader. Developing thoughtful products and tangible services for foster care youth can produce more positive outcomes.

Adult Services and Mobile Technology: There’s an App for That

Adult Services: There's an App for That
Adult Services Social Worker Kristen Hamilton helps a client sign a form using a mobile app

In today’s technology-enabled world, adult services social workers are looking for better ways to help them with their work, but they may be worried about how their clients will react.

In honor of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15, a day to bring together senior citizens, their caregivers, and governments to combat the problem of elder abuse, we want to show how implementing mobile technology can actually help adult services social workers improve the quality of interaction with their clients.

Workers at agencies that use a mobile app designed for adult services are able to update client and case information, complete new forms, and have the clients sign forms electronically on a tablet during visits.

Initially, social workers were worried their clients would be resistant to a change in how services were being provided. But with today’s technology where simply buying a gallon of milk means signing on an electronic signature pad, there have been no issues from clients, and amazing productivity gains and stress relief for social workers.

“I was a little iffy about how my elderly clients would handle the tablets… using technology, but they took to it great,” said Kristen Hamilton, Adult Services Social Worker for Beaufort County Department of Social Services.

The main benefits social workers experience are:

1. Improved Trust

With social workers having the ability to record and transcribe interviews or type case notes with their tablet, they have found they can be more engaged during the interview, building trust with those who are most in need.

2. Faster Community Referrals

Social workers are also able to coordinate faster care, as known client and case information auto populates within all forms and both the client and the worker can sign the forms using the tablet. The worker can then send any medical and mental health forms to a referred community services provider, directly connecting their client to the help they require.

3. Complete Case History

The instantaneous access to all of their client’s documents, including all of the client’s past medical history, saves the worker time and the client benefits by knowing all their records are secure in one place.

To learn more about implementing technology in adult services agencies, we hope you’ll join us for our upcoming Webinar, “Adult Services: There’s an App for That,” on Tuesday, June 30 at 12pm Eastern.

Silver Surfers: Seniors on The Web

Seniors or the elderly are sometimes unfairly subject to gentle mockery on the basis of their supposedly unreliable memories and an inability to adapt to technological innovations, but as this article will argue, it is now an anachronistic stereotype. Today, most people are now fortunate enough to have access to the internet and retirees are no exception. It helps, of course, that the Internet itself is approaching its twentieth birthday, and technology has become more compact as well as more user-friendly.

Changes For The Better

Microsoft at St. Barnabas Senior Center
Microsoft at St. Barnabas Senior Center

One factor that has encouraged mature citizens to embrace digital technology is that the experience itself is has become simpler. Dial up and ISDN connections were appalling and frustrating to use. In hindsight the early days of the Internet was dominated by poorly designed web pages that were non-interactive and not visually appealing to users.

It has only been since the advent of broadband access that surfing the Internet has become a much more palatable experience. Five or six years ago, accessing video could be a vexing experience dogged by low picture quality and problems with streaming. Nowadays, Netflix demonstrate that whole TV series can be watched on demand at the click of a button.

Additionally, the advent of WiFi was a critical innovation because it made computer access mobile in addition it enabled multiple users to connect to the net from wherever they chose inside the home.

Simpler Hardware

The hardware that we used has changed dramatically too. Perhaps the first decade of the Internet’s existence, from around 1995, the dominant device was the desktop.

Heavy, immobile and expensive, the desktop  is undoubtedly powerful, but it can nonetheless be a difficult beast to handle. By contrast, today’s touchscreens are widespread and are intuitive to use which makes accessing the web less intimidating. Tablets, in particular, combine reasonably sized screens with portability and ease of use.

A 103-year old great grandmother from Wales is the oldest Facebook user and probably the oldest iPad user in the world as well. Lillian Lowe is said to have created an account on Facebook weeks ago with the intention of getting updates from her seven grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. Lowe says she has become a Facebook fan since she signed up. The tech-savvy grandmother updates her Facebook account twice a week, and is said to have loved the new features this social networking site offers. Read Full Article

Modern devices are simply much less intimidating than their antecedents. Given that so many aspects of modern life are dependent on or best accessed through the Internet, it’s no surprise that pensioners have adapted to its benefits. Whether asking Google “How much is a stairlift?” or online banking, senior citizens can no longer be accused of being technophobes. Silver Surfers are a large and growing part of the web’s daily traffic and more app development should be made to cater to their needs.

Photo Credit: Microsoft

Top 5 Best Mobile Apps for Social Work Students

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I will be sharing with you the top 5 best mobile apps that will hopefully make your life easier as a social work student. Why not start off the semester with a better system to help keep you organized? I have identified 5 mobile apps that will serve you well in the classroom and later in practice.

These apps are available for download in both Google Play or iTunes depending upon your mobile operating system. As a future social worker, your ability to be mobile and organized will be the key to your success. So, lets start incorporating these fabulous tools in your student life now.

Dropbox– Don’t get caught without your usb drive or say I mistakenly left my assignment on my home computer. There is no excuse for not being able to access important documents, projects, or information with the dropbox mobile app at your disposal. Dropbox is an online cloud storage system that allows you to access music, photos, documents, and/or power points from any computer. Most importantly, you have the ability to authorize certain computers to sync and save documents across all your devices. Let’s say, you are working on a document from the library and you save it in your dropbox folder online. If you authorize your home computer as an authorized device, your work is now saved in the dropbox folder on your home computer’s hard drive as well as your mobile phone.

Evernote-Looking for that research or reference that you can’t seem to find? You need Evernote to help keep you organized. Evernote is like an electronic accordion file stored in the clouds for easy access. Evernote provides an extension for your internet web browser that will allow you to save web pages, photos, research, and other articles as you surf the internet. The Evernote mobile app will then allow you to access your electronic files/notebooks where ever you are and whenever you need them.

Mindmeister-As social workers, we really need to move away from lugging around large flip charts or random scraps of notebook paper when working on group projects to organize and gather data. A popular tool used by many project managers to organize group thinking is mind mapping. Mind maps are visual organizations of gathered data which have proven to be effective for all learning styles. The added bonus of using mind mapping technology is that it will also organize data in traditional outlines for more linear thinkers.

Google Voice- When working at your field placement or even in your personal activities, do you really want to share your personal cell phone number? With Google Voice, you no longer have to make that choice. Google Voice will add a second phone line to any mobile phone with a free phone number from the zip code of your choice. Google Voice will allow you to screen and block annoying callers, send and receive text, archive call logs, and much more. It also provides an options for low-cost international calling.

SWHelper- Have you ever considered talking with social work students from other schools of social work or in other countries to discuss social policy, social justice issues, or human rights? Well, now you can with ease without compromising privacy and security. Collaborate, share ideas, give and receive support to another fellow social work student while staying current on social issues both domestically and abroad. Download on Android or iTunes.

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